Imagine you are on a rollercoaster traveling at 120 MPH. You get off the ride, eat a plate of runny eggs, and go bungee jumping. Then just for fun, you get on a twin prop plane and fly through a Category 5 hurricane.
That about sums up Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the Rangers and Devils.
In a series filled with suspensions, benchings, guarantees, and double overtime drama, the Rangers and Devils showed they weren't quite done toying with emotions in the final game of this classic series. Whichever team came out the winner, it wasn't going to come cheap. The average fan lost 5 years off their life expectancy on May 25th 1994.
You want hitting? How about Alexei Kovalev running into Bobby Holik at the Devils blue line, blowing Holik's helmet off his head, and both players standing there staring each other down? Or Jeff Beukeboom laying out Tommy Albelin with a shoulder check? How about Scott Niedermayer steamrolling Joey Kocur in the Devils zone? Yeah, this game had plenty of great hitting.
Goaltending? Check. Mike Richter and Martin Brodeur matched each other great save for great save. Both teams had plenty of chances in this game, but nothing was coming easy. The 1st period ended scoreless, and the nervousness was building inside the "Garden Beast", Ranger fans knew that the longer the game was scoreless, the more the advantage went to the Devils.
The pressure of this game kept building and building until the 9:31 mark of the 2nd period, when the first pipe burst. Brian Leetch made a spin move around Bill Guerin on the side of the Devils net and slid a backhander through Brodeur's legs to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, and send the Garden into a frenzy.
Both teams had several chances to change the scoring in the 2nd period, but both goalies continued to make big stops, and the score remained 1-0 Rangers heading into the final 20 minutes of Game 7, or so we thought.
The Rangers maintained a 1-0 lead as the last minute of the 3rd period ticked away, and the decibel level rose. The Rangers were seconds away from their first trip to the Finals since 1979. But the "Curse of 1940" was nowhere near done with this Ranger team, and it reared its ugly head again, in the face of Valeri Zelepukin, who stunned the Rangers, the crowd, and the hockey world by scoring with 8 seconds remaining and sending the game into overtime, then double overtime.
There are many calls in sports history that live forever.......
"Do you believe in miracles? YES!" (Al Michaels-1980 USA Hockey Team)
"The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" ("The Shot Heard ‘Round The World"-1951 New York Giants)
"Little roller up along first....behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!!" (Vin Scully-1986 World Series)
But for a Ranger fan, Howie Rose has the one that will never be forgotten:
Stephane Matteau exceeded his Game 3 heroics by sliding the puck past Martin Brodeur in the second overtime, and sending the Rangers into the Finals.A classic ending to a classic series.
One more hill to climb baby, and its Mt. Vancouver.